San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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November 6th, 2008
Calaboose museum chosen for hands-on experimental learning project

San Marcos’ Calaboose Museum of African American History, one of 20 museums chosen from the state of Texas, will be participating in a 12 month, Hands-On Experimental Learning project.

Valued at $10,000, participation in the project was granted to the museum through Mid-American Art’s Alliance Professional Development Division. HELP provides small to midsize museums on-site, affordable learning opportunities that further skills in areas critical to successful museums today.

“We are excited to have been chosen for this project.  We were selected only weeks before the programs began,” said board president, Payton Lawrence. “We try very hard to make our organization a vital part of our community.  Receiving hands-on training to assist us in our efforts is a real privilege.”

“Cultural/historical preservation is to a community what self-esteem is to an individual — remembering, accepting, sharing and celebrating what has made us who we are is a healthy ingredient for determining who we can become,” states board member, Linda Kelsey-Jones. “Having been involved with Johnnie Armstead and the Calaboose for many years has inspired an amazing faith in what one person can do to build this vital community self-esteem. With and for the good of all, Johnnie has left a legacy and a great foundation to build on for coming years. HELP has honored that legacy and shown faith in the future of the Calaboose. With HELP, we can re-group, re-inspire, reorganize, and revitalize that legacy.”

Participants from The Calaboose recently spent several days in Austin attending the first workshop of the program.  They learned about governance challenges facing non-profit organizations, networked with peers from the other 19 museums selected, and set goals related to museum governance issues.

Participants in the project will concentrate on improvements related to nonprofit governance.  Training will be directed to museum board and volunteers, and will focus on the following six essential components of good governance:  board roles, development, meetings, legal issues, fiduciary responsibility, and working relationships.

Workshop participant Carol Coleman said, “This project is important to the Calaboose Museum.  It helped me to identify some of the areas we need to improve, areas of governance.”

Built in 1873, the Calaboose was originally Hays County’s first jail.  In 1990, the building was designated a Texas Historic Landmark and is part of the City of San Marcos Parks and Recreations facilities.

In 1997, the Calaboose was incorporated as a non-profit educational institution. The museum details African American History in San Marcos and sponsors many annual events, such as, the Salute to Women Entrepreneurs and Eddie Durham Music Festival.

Mid-American Arts Alliance is implanting HELP in Texas in partnership with the Texas Commission on the Arts and with generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, and The Meadows Foundation.

by Elisa Laraia

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